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Did Ellen Degeneres Just Take the Seat Puncher’s Side?

Ellen Degeneres Recline Seat

Can we just say that we love it when classic airplane debates truly go viral. If you haven’t been following this one, here’s a quick recap: passenger Wendi Williams Tweeted Andy Cohen, Bravo’s Svengali in Chief that she’d found a Jackhole for his regular round-up of Jackholes of the Week.

The video, of a man repeatedly punching her reclined seat in an effort to get her to un-recline it, quickly went viral because, you know, who does that?

Shortly afterward, everyone piped in with their two cents on the age-old should you/shouldn’t you recline debate, including Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian who ruffled a few feathers by saying that you can recline your seat but that you should ask first (and, presumably, refrain from reclining it if the person behind you asks you not to).

All caught up? Good.

Ellen Degeneres’ Take

In truly viral fashion, the seat puncher wound up on Ellen Degeneres’ opening monologue on Wednesday which began in defense of why the puncher was miffed:

 The man couldn’t recline his own seat because he was in the very last row by the bathrooms – which, in my opinion, should be free but for some reason, they cost the same as all the other seats.

So he asked the woman to put her seat up while he ate because he had very little room which there is on the planes like that. So she put her seat up but then when he finished eating, she reclined it then he started a boxing match with her a seat.

Ellen quickly followed up by saying that “I can’t believe anybody is taking the man’s side, “because to me, the only time it’s ever okay to punch someone’s seat is if the seat punches you first. Then I think you can punch the seat back.”

But, she did start by painting a picture of a situation in which she understands where the seat puncher is coming from because he is squished and by the bathrooms and he doesn’t have enough room.

That makes the recliner sound like The First Jerk who caused the passenger behind her to become The Reactionary Jerk who may have been right in principle but took it too far.

Whose Side Are You On?

But, I guess that’s the reason this debate keeps raging on: is it Wendi’s fault that this gentleman doesn’t know about FlyerTalk’s American Airlines forum which offers tons of advice about where to sit on every model of American Airlines planes and would have advised him not to sit by the bathroom in a seat that doesn’t recline?

Or, do we as fliers have an obligation to take on some of the burdens of the generally unjust seating situation in economy and keep our seats up so that our neighbors can be comfortable?


If you haven’t already, and even if you have, feel free to light this debate up again in the comments section.


whimike February 24, 2020

It would be ideal if they could make them recline like the first class seats that used to be on AA where your seat actually never reclined backwards but where the seat pan slid forward creating a recline and only obstructing your own room while doing so. This would give each passenger the option to either recline and reduce their own legroom or not recline and maintain legroom. Seems like a good way to do it if the price to use these seats aren't too great.

ianassum February 22, 2020

The gent has a personality disorder - either Cluster B or C or both - control and obsessionality are his thing. He clearly struggles with empathy and maturation and he is the king of passive-aggressive behaviour. A referral to a therapist specialising in personality disorders would help

FullFare February 22, 2020

when you recline you are taking space from the flyer behind you. Courtesy would be that you should request if he/she doesn't mind you occupying the space. There is a potential that the reclining may not bother the passenger behind. In such a scenario, life would be blissful. If request is denied, I wouldn't do the recline. Those that insist that reclining is a "right" are, I think, being selfish.

alangore February 22, 2020

I'm taking a third side in this debate. The recline function was engineered for a time when seat width and pitch swere generous enough that no passengers would be inconvenienced by a recliner in front of them. Given today's dollhouse seating, the recline function should be disabled.

hfb606 February 21, 2020

Disgusting click-bait article. Typical Flyertalk tabloid drivel. Pathetic.